By on March 24, 2017

Pontiac Silverdome in 2006

After a lengthy death rattle spanning from 2006 to 2012, Michigan’s Pontiac Silverdome finally closed for good in 2013. Its parking lot, however, remains in use thanks to Volkswagen’s legal obligation to buy back scores of diesel cars following its infamous emissions scandal. In stasis since January, the cars have become an unwelcome addition to the deteriorating stadium and the city of Pontiac has opted to sue the property’s current owners for holding them.

While the site’s parking lot is being used for its intended purpose for the first time in years, city officials claim that Triple Investment Group has violated numerous safety codes, zoning ordinances, and a municipal code relating to the proper storage of used vehicles at the property. Six complaints were filed with the 50th District Court in Pontiac on February 27th, roughly a month after hundreds of VWs arrived in the wake of the company’s emission’s crisis.

Now, the doomed diesels number in the thousands. 

Patrick Lennon, legal representative for Triple Investment Group and partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, told The Oakland Press that his client has not admitted responsibility to any wrongdoing but does plan on cooperating with the city to reach a mutually beneficial solution.

“Our client is actively engaged and working with the city. We hope to resolve our differences with the city and we believe we are making good progress and working together,” Lennon said. “We are still waiting on a schedule for (the hearing) but we are hopeful that we will resolve the differences in the meantime and further hearings won’t be necessary.”

An initial hearing was planned for March 15th, but was adjourned.

The stadium is currently in lousy condition and has only been used occasionally since 2002, when the NFL’s Detroit Lions relocated to Ford Field in downtown Detroit. Afterward, the Silverdome hosted monster truck rallies and the occasional boxing match or concert but hasn’t seen any real action since 2013. Initial redevelopment goals fell through and plans to demolish the building have been repeatedly pushed back for over a year — fostering animosity among Pontiac officials. The area has once again been slated for redevelopment, although no official plans have been filed with the city and it’s currently occupied by a crop of unsellable Volkswagens.

“The city will not continue to let violation after violation go unresolved,” J. Travis Mihelick, an attorney for the city of Pontiac, said in the letter to the court. “We must have some productive movement, other than promises that have been repeated and broken time and again over the last several years.”

A Volkswagen spokesman told the Detroit Free Press Wednesday that the automaker is storing its repurchased diesels at sites all across the country, including the Silverdome. The plan is to keep the cars at these locations until a vehicle modification is developed that would allow the vehicles to be resold. If no such fix becomes available, the vehicles would then be sent out and recycled.

(Image: Dave Hogg/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

64 Comments on “Volkswagen Turned a Defunct Stadium Into a Junkyard and Pontiac Isn’t Pleased...”


  • avatar
    GTL

    That’s sad. Most of those are great cars.

    But it’s hard to blame Pontiac for being upset about it. Or the property owners for getting a bit of income for the use of the parking lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I don’t understand why Pontiac is upset. The fleet of VWs parked on the property is a much smaller problem than the actual building.

      They just don’t like the owners of the property and want something done with it. Also, Pontiac had seven years to figure out what to do with the site and it only got worse. They get some of the blame for this eye sore still existing. But this is Metro Detroit, where we love to keep large abandoned buildings, that serve no purpose, standing for years.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        It’s their own damned fault. they turned down an $18m purchase offer with starry eyed hopes of getting more at auction, then didn’t set a reserve price and let it go for ~$500k. Though I suspect the idiot who was appointed emergency manager had a lot to do with that moronic decision.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          Unpossible. Michigan EMs never mess things up.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          My understanding (I could be wrong) is that the rejected offer had so many conditions and contingencies attached to it that it was considered very unlikely that it would ever close.

          The fact that the next-highest offer was $583,000 would tend to support that premise.

          Any way you look at it, facilities like the Silverdome, Meadowlands and so many others are living testimony to the folly of using public money to build facilities that are essentially gifted to privately-owned professional sports teams. Yet, every time a team owner muses that he might move the team if the city/state doesn’t give him a new arena/stadium, politicians and demented sports fans fall all over themselves to pander to him.

      • 0 avatar
        Higheriq

        Pontiac is not in Wayne County and as such, not part of “Metro Detroit”.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I can’t tell if you are serious or joking..

          I put “Metro” in front of Detroit for a reason.

          Metro Detroit is, at the very minimum, Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties. The Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, St Clair, and Lapeer counties.

          I live two and a half miles north of Wayne County. My house is definitely in Metro Detroit.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Not sure what the big deal is, the Silverdome has a large unused parking lot so VW found a solution to their storage problem.

    Supposedly the Gen 1 cars will be meeting with the crusher at some point due to the lack of a fix (although one could maybe happen still) and the fact that a lot of the Gen 1 cars are either beat to hell / high mileage and no one would want to buy them used.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yeah. besides, during the Dark Days of Daimler, there were piles and piles of Rams, Dakotas, Durangos, and Aspens filling the Silverdome parking lot, as well as the State Fairgrounds and lots of other empty parcels of land. All to accommodate Joachim “Call me Joe, I’m just folks” Eberhardt’s grand plan to keep plants cranking out trucks no one ordered and no one wanted.

  • avatar
    deanst

    It’ll be interesting to see what laws are being broken regarding parking cars in a parking lot. I assume it has something to do with the length of stay.

    Pontiac officials should be greatful – parked cars make it look like something is actually going on in this wasteland.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I think it has more to do with being used for *storage* and not just *parking.*

      *Parking* lots are for short term use by guests of the facility. Not for cars to sit unattended for weeks/months on end.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        The parking lot is also on private property, and only if what you put there could cause tangible harm to others should government have a say. For example, if the cars were there for years and started leaking fluids.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          let a car sit on your front lawn for a bit and see how quickly the city starts crawling up your hind end about it.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            My front lawn isn’t a *parking lot*.

            There are no rules in my city about parking cars on my DRIVEWAY however. I have in fact had unregistered cars sitting there for extended periods of time.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I saw the Detroit Lions play there (and actually win! – gasp) some time in the mid 90s.

    A better pic of the car-nage here:
    https://cbsdetroit.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/silverdome-cars.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I remember- as a bright eyed, bushy tailed supplier jr. engineer- we went to a design review at CTC then took the Chrysler folks to lunch at the Main Event. we watched Jason Hanson take practice kicks while the team did various workouts while we ate.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Just park them around farmer’s markets, indie rock concerts, David Hasselhoff’s house, “Stance Nation” conventions, and other places VWs gather.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I guess my question is this: why is this such a problem?

    If the lot’s fenced in properly, I don’t see the big deal. But if it isn’t, then I can see how this could quickly become a problem (vandalism, theft, etc). Anyone know what kind of security is in place there?

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      If they were vandalized, that would seem to be VWs problem, not the city’s lol.

      I also don’t see why storing cars in an otherwise unused parking lot is the subject of so much bitching and moaning.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    At least in my old home town of Cleveland they tear down (most of) their obsolete stadiums and arenas. I know there are remaining vestiges of League Park where my Dad used to watch the Indians when he was a kid.

    It’s too bad these are sedans and not minivans, they would make decent homeless housing.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      We like eyesores and blight. Maybe they can park these VWs at the old train station too.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      From my observations of post-industrial Rust Belt cities it appears as though Michigan has more unwarranted optimism about their abandoned structures than other places.

      Stuff that would just get torn down in OH or PA just sticks around forever in Michigan due to the persistent thought that a big turnaroud is just around the corner.

      I think it’s due to the fact that automotive was historically boom/bust and that the auto industry didn’t *really* start shedding jobs until a decade after the steel mills went boom in places like Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

      Everybody else has moved on to the “Acceptance” phase of the change curve. Michigan is still in “Denial”

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        no, it’s because the money ran out far faster than much of it could be dealt with. Then there’s of course politicians who sought to enrich themselves (Kwame Kilpatrick) at the expense of a city rapidly careening towards insolvency. plus there was that period after 1968 when properties/buildings were abandoned in droves.

        it’s also because- derelict/decaying or not- most of these properties are still *owned by someone.* A lot of times it’s “absentee” owners in other states who buy big blocks of properties for pennies and neither know or care what’s on them. The city can’t just demolish buildings on properties owned by someone, can’t afford to buy them outright and then demolish, and can’t afford to spend time in court trying to make them “eminent domain” cases.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          “it’s also because- derelict/decaying or not- most of these properties are still *owned by someone.*”

          This is the big one. The blighted stadiums and other various structures are either privately owned, or cost a ton to take down. Sometimes both. For example the Packard Plant will have an especially high cost of demo because, it isn’t going to provide any usable materials to offset demo costs.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        The scope of Detroit is on a much more massive scale than Cleveland or Pittsburgh. Detroit is larger, area wise, than both of those cities combined.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yep, one of the issues that has caused Detroit’s current malaise is its’ physical size, which was designed around millions of residents. But when half of them leave, the whole infrastructure still needed to be maintained, just with a far smaller (and less affluent) tax base.

          I read that the mayor (current or previous – don’t recall which) floated the idea of moving large numbers of people out of the “emptied out” areas to more populated areas, in an effort to provide services more efficiently.

          Sounds vaguely like a 21st century Trail of Tears, but in the context of what’s happening there, it makes some sense.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The country needs to get its financial sh*t together first, but one option might be for the Feds to eminent domain the outskirts and demolish it.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            what interest do “the feds” have in doing so?

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            While it’s physical size currently hurts Detroit, I would argue that it didn’t get big enough. Unlike cities like Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, Phoenix, various Californian cities, etc, Detrot was never able to annex suburbs or additional land. If Detroit had the tax revenue or the Grosse Pointes and Western Wayne County, they would probably be in a much better spot.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            1. Detroit is a blight on the nation and literally a global punchline.

            2. In this screenshot I just took, you will see the very first suggested search is “what happened to Detroit”.

            https://s3.postimg.org/f6v04ox6b/Detroit.png

            3. Propaganda value, such and effort allows the Feds to show they care about the nation (which I think they do not, but still).

            4. A template could be developed to deal with other failed cities.

            5. Michigan/Detroit cannot afford to do it on their own.

            6. Forcing inhabitants to relocate is very bad PR, and will conjure up imagery of the Trail of Tears and more recent genocides.

            7. Such a project could be viewed as “progressive” if the current owners are somehow compensated. I can see the Snake People lining up behind it as long as no one’s feelings/financial interests are hurt (I’m serious).

            8. The Feds literally pissed away trillions on nothing the past ten to fifteen years. Coughing up $30K per household, $1 billion buys 33,333 houses and $30K is extremely generous considering those houses are worth about $300 apiece.

            9. The city will have less to be responsible for and in theory could run a bit better with what is left.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            True. Adam, but none of those cities had to deal with a 50% population loss like Detroit did.

            Agreed on the second point, though…my hometown (St. Louis) has a very similar problem. The city is actually its’ own county, so it can’t tap into the wealthier areas of the metro area to do silly stuff like hire enough cops to deal with the outrageous murder rate.

            And then folks in the suburbs expect the city residents to fund all the big-ticket stuff like stadiums out of their own pocket…so folks from the ‘burbs come downtown for Cardinals and Blues games and then flee home. It’s a major reason why they’ve lost two football teams…and it’s probably the prime reason why the area is an economic backwater. Too many little municipalities playing NIMBY.

            Then again, we have Denver, where I live, with the opposite problem: too many people want to live here, which is making it unaffordable. Just looked at a circa-1970 tract house in Arvada (which is basically a white-collar/blue-collar middle class suburb) – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths…$425,000. F**king insane.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I am awaiting moderation…

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            If you could find a suburban 3/2 tract house for $425,000 in Seattle, there would be a riot at the selling agent’s office.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Metro Detroit hasn’t really lost population though. We are only 200K residents off of peak levels (we are at 97% of the 1970s peak). Detroit has lost population.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Like St. Louis (or Cleveland), the Detroit metro isn’t all that badly off.

            It’s the central city that really went down the tubes. And that drags the whole area down.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @dal:

            Yeah, but the point is that it’d be a shame for Denver to succumb to Seattle-level housing price inflation.

            Unfortunately, home ownership for me has become financially feasible at the same time that housing prices have gone gonzo.

          • 0 avatar
            seanx37

            More like 2/3 of the city leaving.

            The idea of the moving people around, and abandoning part of the city was floated by Dennis Archer’s administration. It made sense, so of course, it wasn’t allowed to happen.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The plan is to keep the cars at these locations until a vehicle modification is developed that would allow the vehicles to be resold.”

    Who actually believes that delusion? There hasn’t been a single fix authorized for *any* domestic TDI yet, 2.0 or 3.0L, and it’s not worth the manpower, legal headaches, or ongoing support issues to fix them for any market.

    They’re all getting crushed.

    • 0 avatar
      KevinC

      There has indeed been a fix approved for the later 2.0’s. We got our letter a couple of months ago outlining the fix. We had already opted for the buy-back and the car has already been replaced with a new Mazda3. The buyback appointment should be scheduled shortly.

      Here’s a link to info about the fix.

      http://blog.caranddriver.com/owners-of-2015-volkswagen-2-0-liter-tdi-diesels-your-fix-is-here/

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I drove by Pikes Peak International Race Way yesterday, just south of Colorado Springs CO and the dirt field to the north of the track is filled with VW’s and a couple of earth movers were clearing room for what looks like several thousand more.

    These are in a far more rural area than parked in what I figure to be a downtown MI area. Still, I kept musing that if I owned a Jetta, Golf, Beetle what have you and I needed a new set of tires it would be nice to swing by the lot and do the swap out.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Tires? Upgrade to alloys, leather, and snag some non-TDI related mechanicals that will most certainly be useful in the future. Lol

      Besides, the tires themselves don’t have to go on another VW, they could be taken off the wheels and used for other cars.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    What a novel idea, parking cars in, (of all places), a “parking lot”! At least with the activity of actually parking cars there, it should reduce the vandalism and destruction of a deserted facility.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      or leads to a bunch of vandalized cars, which increases police workload. and this is a city which couldn’t afford to keep its police department, instead falling back on the Oakland County Sheriff.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    COMING THIS SUMMER

    Imagine if the world you lived in; the space you breathed in; and the freedom you played in; was suddenly taken away.

    Imagine if the only person who knew how you felt; was a boy; who felt it too.

    In a world where beauty is held captive; it takes a special friend; to set you free.

    Warner Brothers proudly presents; the most unexpected friendship of the year; the greatest adventure of the summer.

    .
    .
    .

    FREE JETTA

    youtube.com/watch?v=Y6bSTWtAo0U

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “A Volkswagen spokesman told the Detroit Free Press Wednesday that the automaker is storing its repurchased diesels at sites all across the country, including the Silverdome.”

    There is a small airstrip in the Reynolds Industrial Park in Green Cove Springs, FL, that until last weekend, was being used as a drag strip – As I understand it, it too will become a storage yard for VW’s dirty diesels.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    This is an attempted money grab by the cash-deficient city of Pontiac. If the cars were Fords, GMs, or Chryslers, nothing would be said.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Just seems INSANE to crush all these cars. Part them out. People crash and damage cars every day. Things break, seats wear out, etc. These cars represent many years worth of potential fixes. You could basically have a brand NEW car with just an engine swap. Think of all those window regulators just waiting for a new home. Those things have a life span measured in minutes so VW owners need buckets of them. Yet here they sit, unused. This is beyond stupid. We live in such a wasteful society it is not even funny.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, but I wonder what VW’s liability would be in harvesting the parts and then reselling them.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I would bet the cars will be taken apart prior to being crushed/recycled in a similar fashion retired from service/wrecks are recycled today.

      The only hiccup I could potentially see would be the parts suppliers getting up in arms, as they make a great living making faulty power window regulators for VW.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      They won’t go straight to the crusher. VW will auction them off and many of them will go to wrecking yards who will sell what they can before crushing them. Some of the smarter wrecking yards will harvest select parts and build up a nice inventory of things like those window regulators, lights ect.

      Certainly with the volume of cars though many will also likely go straight to the crusher.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Just seems INSANE to crush all these cars. Part them out.”

      Uh, no. that’s dumb; it would cost VW even more money.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Quite honestly this is a terrible waste of resources. Why not let people with old cars that pollute more have them at knock down prices? Surely a scrappage scheme like this would make sense? Also if someone wants to get rid of something like a Hummer for one of these then that’s got to be a good thing?

  • avatar
    Joss

    At the end of it all, way past this municipal squabble, I’d take the stripped-out bodies and build an artificial reef. In the shape of a VW emblem? Sure there’s costs & planing. But when you think of the tragedy of the Barrier Reef. A VW reef would be a path towards political redemption.

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    If the city of Pontiac owned the stadium, and was generating income by leasing the parking lot to VW, they would be patting themselves on the back for their good governance.
    There will probably be several meetings that result in what they will call a settlement, which is politi-speak for bribe.

  • avatar

    warning: If your TDI is gone, the VW claims processors took a page from the mortgage refinance processors after the recession…take papers, lose some, keep asking for more.

    I’ve given them the entire title history of the car. The lease…the purchase…the wreck..the buy out….release of lien letters. They tell me the papers are in order on the web site but in phone calls (Customer Service Roulette) they ask for things not on the website. Now they ask for the first sale proof a second time. This is getting stupid.

    I finally copied my whole file and sent it certified mail. I’ll advise if I ever get the $3k check I’m supposed to see. I’m at this point thinking the hassle and incompetence is not a bug, but a feature….


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • stuki: As long as the Fed keeps printing money, CA can print theirs as well. They’ll just continue to call them...
  • stuki: And then there are people who believe in Santa Claus. And, perhaps more relevantly, science fiction.
  • SunnyvaleCA: >>> I presume you’re in a red state; you will miss the world’s sixth largest economy, which...
  • maui_zaui: The more I look at the G70’s front end, the more I see a gussied up Elantra Sport. I know it’s...
  • RHD: More than two years later, and they still haven’t fixed it…

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States